Cadillac V-16 Convertible Sedan

They call it the “blue hour”: the time of day between light and dark, when light is clearest but pitch blackness will soon settle over the land. It is entirely appropriate, then, that when Edith du Pont Riegel placed her order for a V-16 Cadillac in 1934, the car would be painted Blue Hour Blue. For the first generation V-16, 1934 was the blue hour, twilight, the beginning of the end.

The model had been redesigned for the last time this year, adopting the new, in-vogue, streamlined styling with pontoon fenders, flowing bullet-shaped headlights, and aerodynamic grilles. Underneath, however, was essentially the same car introduced in 1930. Then, Owen Nacker’s magnificent porcelain and iron V-16 had been an engineering masterpiece. Its 45 degree vee, unusually narrow for the period, and a three-inch stroke allowed for a relatively compact 452-cubic inch engine with a short crankshaft, which ran on five main bearings. While other engines of the period emphasized speed and power, the Cadillac Sixteen impressed first with smoothness and silence, so that passengers were astonished to note that they were cruising along at 70 mph.

Four years later, the V-16 was still a wonderful automobile, but its chassis engineering seemed dated compared to the new products from Packard and Cord. Underneath the modern design was a four-year-old car. In addition, the Great Depression continued to clobber sales of $8,000 automobiles. As a result, V-16 sales continued to wane, except among those who continued to appreciate its “magic carpet” power and had the great funds to afford it.

Part of the RM Auctions event in Arizona in January, 2013.

185 bhp, 452 cu. in. overhead-valve V-16 engine, three-speed selective synchromesh manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs and three-quarter floating rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 154 in.

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Pawel Litwinski

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